Across just two LPs and three prior vinyl singles, ragtag Carrboro rock 'n' whatever trio Spider Bags have explored at least a half-dozen approaches. From pasteboard acoustic howlers and broken country sighs to charged Crazy Horse anthems and staggering hooky rock, the Bags have opened most every box and overturned most every object in the garage. Focus might not be a particularly notable aspect of their discography—exploration undoubtedly is.
And so the 7-inch single format, which they've vowed to exploit with a string of songs released before making a third album, might be the perfect constraint for frontman Dan McGee's rangy musical mind. At least that's how the band's debut for Bull City Records feels, since both sides are concise numbers that invite you to alternately thrash and dance. "Dog in the Snow" and "Walking Walking Nowhere Nowhere" have springy hooks for a little side-to-side bounce, while the verses of both plow forward with a starving maw. And, if you're willing to follow McGee's voice through the distortion he added to it in Memphis at Goner Records, you'll hear that these songs are united lyrically, too. Aggressive and snarled, they advocate for being ostracized or, at the very least, avoiding any meaningless movement of the masses.
Peculiar production choices wonderfully tweak "Dog in the Snow." What seems to be a stock verse-chorus-verse tune warps into an immersive hall of mirrors, where guitar lines, amplifier hiss and separate vocal parts bounce and clash in unexpected patterns. "Nowhere" is much more linear, McGee's guitar and Gregg Levy's bass pushing forward like two fists—or, in context, like two sides of a short, solid, more-to-come single.
Spider Bags release their Bull City single in Durham at The Pinhook, Friday, April 2. The Dry Heathens open the 9 p.m. show. Tickets are $5.